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Question : I am 57 years old. My maternal grandmother and mother both had Alzheimer’s disease. There have been some times when I feel like I’m waking up from a fog or mental sleep.
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D., is professor of medicine and editor-in-chief of Harvard Health Publications at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Komaroff also is senior physician and was formerly director of the Division of General Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Komaroff has served on various advisory committees to the federal government, and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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December 02, 2011
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A:

There is no doubt that the genes you inherit can increase your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Several different genes have been linked with a person’s risk for the disease. Alzheimer’s disease that begins at a young age can affect many family members.

If your mother and her mother both developed Alzheimer’s disease when they were around your age (57), I would be more concerned that your symptoms might reflect early signs of the disease.

Having said this, most people who develop Alzheimer’s disease are older than you. And they don’t have a family history of the disease.

Based on the information you’ve given, I can’t know for sure if your symptoms are early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. But since your mother and her mother had the disease, you should talk with your doctor. He or she will want more details on what you are experiencing. It’s often difficult to describe a foggy and disoriented feeling. Give your doctor some specific examples.

If your doctor thinks your symptoms are worrisome, he or she might order formal testing. Your doctor might also order a special imaging study called a PET scan. This can help find signs of early Alzheimer’s disease.

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